All good things do eventually come to an end, and so it is that this month we conclude our James Carr reissue programme, with a sixth and final CD. My Soul Is Satisfied" rounds up all the remaining studio masters of James - those still in existence, at least - in a package that upholds its title in every way. As A&R supervisor for the project I take no small degree of delight in the fact that, with this release, at least one version of every traceable James Carr studio recording is now available on an Ace or Kent CD - delight that's shared by all of my colleagues here at Ace Towers, of course."
My Soul Is Satisfied" covers virtually the entire span of James Carr's recording career, from 1967 to 2000, in a manner that befits the revered status of late great soulman. It features unissued and hard-to-find material from every stage of his career, including some of the best recordings you may have yet to hear. It's taken over a year to check and double check all the original Goldwax tapes in our vaults, and to organise the licensing-in of the repertoire James cut for Atlantic, River City and SoulTrax. The end result was more than worth the time it took to pull it all together.
In the course of an hour and a bit we hear James at his mid-60s 'original Goldwax' peak, with stunning alternate recordings, takes and mixes of some of his classic Goldwax 45s and album cuts. We hear him duetting with criminally under-recorded Goldwax thrush Barbara Perry and having a successful bash at interpreting Bacharach & David and Holland-Dozier-Holland. As we move through the CD we take in both sides of James' sole Atlantic 45 and all three of his mid 70s recordings for River City (only two of which were originally issued) - the sum total of James' issued output between 1971 and 1991, in fact. The remainder of the CD consists primarily of recordings that James cut with his mentor and original producer Quinton Claunch as the 20th century drew to a close and that were mostly originally issued on a SoulTrax CD that mixed them with previously issued SoulTrax sides. Recorded with a real Memphis rhythm section and featuring James in superb voice, these are as much a treat for the ears as are the selections from a quarter of a century earlier.
We're also privileged to include what seems to be the last recording James ever made, his demo of A Woman's Got The Power. Quinton Claunch told me that James wasn't feeling too well on the day of the session, but that he agreed to lay a guide vocal of the basic rhythm track with a view to going back and putting down a better one when his voice was in better shape. Sadly that never happened, but as you'll hear, there's nothing wrong with the basic, one take, job he did here.
One or two of the sources are sadly not of the standard that we would routinely entertain on an Ace or Kent CD, but I figured that James' fans would rather endure a bit of lo-fi here and there than to be deprived of a precious unissued performance. Thus the guys downstairs at Sound Mastering - who made everything sound as good as you'll ever hear it, anyway - were asked to relax their super-high audio standards, where necessary, in the name of satisfying the James completist (aren't we all that?). Most of the tracks sound colossally brilliant, of course - and would probably have done so if James had recorded them from inside a cardboard box.
Fittingly the CD concludes with the only three recordings of James Carr, gospel singer. These were originally released on a now-deleted Jubilee Hummingbirds CD back in the early 1990s, and it's a fair bet that a lot of James' fans will not even be aware that they exist. Prior to becoming the great southern soul stylist that he unquestionably was, the young James (and his early Goldwax label mate O V Wright) had been a member of the Hummingbirds in the early 1960s, so these three sensational sides were something of a homecoming for him. I'm certain you'll agree that, collectively, they provide a wholly appropriate way to close this very special CD. And if all this good stuff wasn't already enough, we are delighted that - in addition to all the unissued sides and alternate takes of familiar tracks - we can also bring you a cover shot of James, taken in Memphis by Tav Falco in the second half of the 1970s, that has never been published before.
We're always getting asked if there is any more James Carr material in the can. Sadly, after this release, the answer seems to be a firm and fast 'no'. Of course we'd release James Carr CD's 24-7-365 if we could, but save for one or two more (very similar) alternate takes of existing masters there'd nothing new to fill 'em up with. If this CD really does close the door on James Carr's studio recordings, then it closes it in the most soul-satisfying way possible.
By Tony Rounce"